The Hot Pepper Potential: Rutgers Ag Research Aims for Alternative Markets in New Jersey and the Region

Habaneros are among the exotic hot peppers with growing market potential.

Habaneros are among the exotic hot peppers with growing market potential.

It’s hard to be neutral about hot peppers. People often run, pardon the pun, hot or cold when it comes to these spicy meal additions. Those with “seasoned” taste buds may ply their dishes with daring degrees of spiciness, while others who fear the burn decline to indulge. But hot peppers offer more than a spicy bite to meals and present some other uses that can turn up the heat on its market potential. [Read more...]

What’s in Season from the Garden State: Farm to Fork Food Waste? It Depends on Your Perspective

What happens to the farm produce that doesn't make the grade? One use is to supply local food banks by "gleaning" the produce left in the field.

What happens to the farm produce that doesn’t make the grade? One use is to supply local food banks by “gleaning” the produce left in the field.

By Rick VanVranken, Agricultural and Resource Management Agent, Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension of Atlantic County

August “Augie” Wuillermin, co-owner/operator with his brother, Ed Jr., of Ed Wuillermin & Sons Farm in Hammonton, NJ, turned in disgust and grumbled, “Some days I just have to stay out [of the packing house] when the peppers come in this way. It’s sickening. Seems like such a waste!”

Is waste an opportunity lost?

Economists talk about ‘opportunity cost’, loosely defined as the value of something that must be given up in order to do something else. Every resource has alternative uses, so every choice has opportunity cost(s).

Waste comes into play when the investment of time, energy and labor does not create the intended outcome and the alternatives do little to cover those costs. Hence, from grower to consumer, technologies and practices are employed to reduce potential losses as much as possible. Sorting machines fine tune the sizing and separating of defective produce. Packaging engineers design containers that maximize air flow to allow efficient cooling while maintaining strength to protect the fragile contents during storage and shipping. [Read more...]

Rutgers Joins USDA Northeast Climate Hub to Address Needs of Natural Resource Managers

Wildfire in Ocean County, NJ in April, 2014. Source: NJ State Climatologist Office

Wildfire in Ocean County, NJ, in April 2014. Source: NJ State Climatologist Office

Farmers, forest landowners and other natural resource managers, whose livelihoods depend on the reliability of seasonal cycles, are on the forefront of climate change. When anticipated local conditions are disrupted, conventional practices no longer suffice and land managers have to tread new ground.

There’s assistance, however, in the Northeast region of the U.S. in the form of the USDA Northeast Climate Hub, which will deliver science-based knowledge and practical information to farmers and forest landowners. The aim of the hub is to support decision-making related to climate change and to maintain and strengthen agricultural production, natural resource management and rural economic development under increasing climate variability. It will build capacity within USDA to deliver information and guidance on technologies and risk management practices at regional and local scales. [Read more...]

New Jersey’s Got “Terroir,” Celebrates State Wine Week Sept. 19-28

The winemakers’ art relies on the cultivation of select varieties of well-adapted grapes that thrive under sets of conditions unique to every site. The French have a single vocabulary word, “terroir,” to describe this broad set of interacting factors that includes the soils, their orientation, grape variety, farming practices, climate, local microclimate, wine making culture and technology. According to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, New Jersey has 50 licensed wineries and is 10th in the nation in wine production, with 1.6 million gallons produced in 2012.  In 2013, New Jersey wineries sold 447,425 gallons of wine.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie honored the wine industry for being a growing contributor to the state’s economy, signing a proclamation declaring September 19 to 28 as New Jersey Wine Week.

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher visited Working Dog Winery in East Windsor on September 16 to announce the beginning of Wine Week in New Jersey, celebrating the Garden State’s 2014 grape harvest. Joining him to kick off NJ Wine Week are (l-r) Larry Sharrott, Chairman of the Garden State Wine Growers Assoc.; Secretary Fisher; Alcoholic Beverage Control Dir. Michael Halfacre; Mark Carduner of Working Dog Winery; East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov; and Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Executive Dean Robert Goodman. Source: NJDA

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher visited Working Dog Winery in East Windsor on September 16 to announce the beginning of Wine Week in New Jersey, celebrating the Garden State’s 2014 grape harvest. Joining him to kick off NJ Wine Week are (l-r) Larry Sharrott, Chairman of the Garden State Wine Growers Assoc.; Secretary Fisher; Alcoholic Beverage Control Dir. Michael Halfacre; Mark Carduner of Working Dog Winery; East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov; and Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Executive Dean Robert Goodman. Photo: NJDA

[Read more...]

Jersey Crowds Brave the Sunshine to Taste Tomatoes: 2014 Tomato Tasting at Rutgers Snyder Farm

2014 Great Tomato Tasting

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While always well attended rain or shine, a record number of people pre-registered for the 2014 Tomato Tasting.

Armed with plastic forks, a crowd descended upon Rutgers Snyder Research Farm in Pittstown on August 27 to attend the Annual Snyder Farm Open House and Great Tomato Tasting. Tasters had an offering of eighty varieties of tomatoes to taste from as well as basil, peaches, apples and honey. The samplings provided a glimpse of some of the research crops grown at Snyder Farm and hayride farm tours gave an up close look at fruit and vegetable trials in the field. [Read more...]